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Spartan forum focuses on security

Would you feel safer if public safety officers did random bag and car searches? What about if students had to present school ID’s every time they entered a dormitory building or on-campus parking lot?What about if every step you took down the hallway was monitored on surveillance cameras?

These measures aren’t being taken at Castleton yet, but some students feel that they should be after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. School security is now on the minds of students across campus after the massacre, but it was already on the minds of President Dave Wolk and Dean of Administration Bill Allen before the shootings took place.

At the same time the shootings were occuring, Allen, who chairs the Emergency Planning group, was meeting with Wolk to review draft nine of the Castleton Emergency Management Plan. The plan, which has been written up by a group of eight faculty members, all from different departments of campus, is expected to be finished and distributed to students later in April.

It will be published in two forms: an in-depth version and also as a one- or two-page emergency protocol that can be kept at desks, on bulletin boards, and in resident halls. These plans will have information about “emergency contact numbers, protocols, procedures for specific emergencies, and information dealing with any considerations related to an emergency that the committee could envision,” according to a campus wide e-mail Wolk sent on April 19.

Allen said the plan started last summer when it was apparent that the school needed one. Prior to this plan, there were different pieces of plans scattered across campus. The new one, which was developed from looking at and taking pieces from a dozen other school’s emergency plans, will make it easier for everyone, Allen said.

Although the detailed plan may help if a disaster occurs on campus, they acknowledge there is no way to predict human behavior or make any college campus completely safe.

“Keeping everyone safe is the responsibility of all of us as a community,” Allen said.

He then noted that CSC recently spent over $100,000 for card reader access to ensure that only residents could get into resident halls, but she said students now prop doors open with rocks or empty cans.

At an April 19 luncheon sponsored by The Spartan, students had the opportunity to ask Wolk questions about security, or whatever else was on their mind.

Topics ranged from food quality and an 18-year-old drinking age (which he supports) to the quality of the newspaper – but security measure dominated the discussion.

Although some students feel that more measures should be taken around campus to ensure a safer atmosphere, others, like Jennifer Manning, said there is a fine line between security and violations of personal privacy, which random searches and surveillance in dorms would be breaking.

Allen, in a separate interview, said that surveillance in parking lots and hallways has been considered, but that he likes to think that it isn’t needed. He added that when the North Street parking lot gets renovated this summer, wiring for surveillance will be done, although surveillance cameras will not initially be installed.

Manning, a junior who attended the luncheon, was one of those students that thought random searches and surveillance would be going too far.

“I think that searching people with backpacks would be violating their personal rights. This is a college and we should have rights,” Manning said.

As students discussed measures that could be taken, Wolk scribbled down notes on a piece of paper as fast as he could. He said he appreciated the input and suggested a campus talk be held where more students could share their thoughts with administration.

No time has yet been made for this meeting.